Local News

Member of UNC Board of Governors wants those who toppled 'Silent Sam' to face charges

Posted August 22, 2018 11:24 p.m. EDT
Updated August 23, 2018 5:21 p.m. EDT

— At least one member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors is calling for those who toppled the "Silent Sam" monument to face charges.

Thom Goolsby, a former state senator and Wilmington member of the UNC Board of Governors, released a video Wednesday with six questions he wants answered in regards to the incident. Among them, Goolsby wants to know if criminal charges will be filed and if restitution will be sought from those involved in Monday night’s protest.

“The lawless acts committed at UNC-Chapel Hill cannon go unpunished. The criminals who committed these willful acts deserve to be held accountable for their crimes and the harm they cause,” he said in a statement on YouTube. “If we do not demand justice, we invite a state of anarchy on all of our university campuses.”

Protesters on Monday night first sectioned off the area around the controversial statue with large banners, blocking it from view before pulling it down. At one point, there were tense moments between protesters and police officers. Protesters deployed smoke canisters, but no one was injured.

Police surrounded the statue once it was on the ground and university officials carried the toppled statue away overnight.

In his two-and-a-half minute video, Goolsby said he wants to know if police stood down to allow protesters access to the "Silent Sam" statue or if police presence was not sufficient to control the crowd.

"The fact that the police stood down on one of our university campuses, allowed radicals to go in for it seemed like an hour and a half I believe, and pull this statue down, in violation of North Carolina law when law enforcement was there and did nothing. Didn't call the Orange County sheriff's department, Chatham County sheriff's department, Wake County sheriff's department, highway patrol, nothing," he told NBC affiliate WECT. "They just let it all occur on campus. I want to know who allowed that? Who gave the stand down order?"

In a tweet, Goolsby also says that the toppled statue should be reinstalled, citing a 2015 law that made it illegal to move any historical monument unless it’s for reasons of historical preservation or public safety.

Members of the UNC Board of Governors and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt last year received a letter from a Durham law firm, requesting that the statue be removed because it fostered a racially hostile learning environment. The statue has also been the site of several protests in recent years.

In an interview with WECT, Goolsby said the UNC Board of Governors is actively investigating Monday night’s incident and will likely meet to discuss it in the near future.

“As a member of the UNC System Board of Governors, a former NC Senate Judiciary Chair and a graduate of UNC Law School, I am appalled by the recent toppling and desecration of the Soldier’s Memorial Monument at UNC-Chapel Hill,” Goolsby said. “All North Carolinians deserve a full disclosure of all the facts relating to these criminal acts.”